Shakespeare in Plague-Ridden London

Despite the plague’s high contagiousness and terrifying symptoms, life in Elizabethan England went on. By Lindsey Rachel Hunt William Shakespeare died 400 years ago, in April of 2016. But, thanks to the plague’s many sweeps through London, he could have actually died much, much sooner. While the plague hit London particularly hard in 1665, it[…]

‘So Very Japanny’: The British Reception of ‘The Mikado’ in 1885

Examining the writings of The Mikado producers and opera reviewers in 1885, showing that the British were eager to create a quaint, picturesque, “authentic” image of Japan. In 1885 librettist William Schwenck Gilbert visited the Japanese Village, a London spectacle featuring Japanese natives performing their way of life.[1] Gilbert drew inspiration from his visit for the production[…]

The New London Docks, 1800-1830

William Daniell’s prints of the new docks represented London’s modernization in particularly exultant terms. Introduction From 1800, London’s dock system was revolutionised, and many commemorative prints were published to celebrate the transformation. William Daniell’s prints of the new docks represented London’s modernisation in particularly exultant terms. Alice Rylance-Watson explores. In the 1790s a formidable and[…]

Deadly Stink and Life-Saving Aromas in 17th-Century Plague-Stricken London

Looking at medical advice given to suffers during London’s ‘Great Plague’ c.1665-1666 How do you avoid catching the plague? Smoke constantly. Carry a sponge soaked in vinegar. Hang oranges studded with cloves around your house. This was the best medical advice available circa 1665, as the Great Plague ravaged London. The miasma theory of contagious[…]

London’s 17th-Century Restoration Indoor Theater

This kind of theater allowed for more lighting and special effects that could enhance the performances. By Paula E. Thomson Introduction The Restoration in England took place from 1660 to 1700 (Avery & Scouten ). This time was a 40 year gap where there was a huge cross between politics and what happened in the[…]

The London Mithraeum: Going Underground in Ancient Roman Londinium

Londinium, as the city was called in ancient times, was founded by the Romans after they conquered the island in 43 CE. By Wanda MarcussenHistorian Introduction London, the proud capital of the United Kingdom, is visited by millions of tourists every year and is famous for its rich history and historical landmarks. Magnificent castles, medieval[…]

The Journalist Who Exposed Sex Trafficking in Victorian London

W.T. Stead’s 1885 account of the process by which wealthy Londoners procured teenagers for sex became a global news story, but the police refused to investigate. Wealthy men soliciting underage girls for sex. Girls lured to expensive homes by promises of good-paying jobs. Captains of commerce and heads of state reveling in debauchery. Officials looking[…]

The Prince of Quacks (and How He Captivated London)

James Graham, founder of the Temple of Health, benefitted from his undeniable flair for showmanship and his talent for leaping on trends. Let me set the scene: In late eighteenth-century England, ladies and gentlemen flocked to exhibitions of solar microscopes. The miniature world of mites and polyps was blown up and cast on the wall like[…]

Unearthing the Health of Victorian London

What bones tell us about the lives and deaths of the dead. In 2011, AOC Archaeology completed an archaeological excavation at St John’s Primary School, Peel Grove, in Bethnal Green, London, ahead of the construction of a new nursery school. The site was a former burial ground privately run as a commercial business by pawnbroker[…]

Beer Brewing, Industrialization, and London Water Supplies Since the 16th Century

London was already a major beer producer in the sixteenth century. London was already a major beer producer in the sixteenth century. However, beginning in the eighteenth century, urbanization and industrialization meant a sharp increase in scale for brewers. Because brewers required large quantities of sweet water for manufacturing their product, this also resulted in[…]

‘Murder Map’ Reveals Medieval London’s Meanest Streets

First digital map of the murders recorded by the city’s Coroner in early 1300s shows Cheapside and Cornhill were homicide ‘hot spots’, and Sundays held the highest risk of violent death for medieval Londoners. Stabbed by a lover with a fish-gutting knife. Beaten to death for littering with eel skins. Shot with an arrow during a[…]

Citizen v. John Foreigner: The Politics of Inclusion in Medieval England’s Urban Centers

John Medewall, bearing a very English-sounding name, describes himself as a foreigner, and as such at a disadvantage in a suit against a London citizen. In the late fifteenth century, John Medewall brought his petition before the chancellor at Westminster. He explained his dilemma. Purportedly written from his prison cell in London, he recounted how[…]